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Onward To The Recycle Bin! (Part XVII) - 55%

OzzyApu, October 20th, 2010

1994 wasn’t the most promising year for making it big as a metal band in the land of “fuck you, my God has a bigger dick than your God.” Their music, however, I’m still not bought on. Orphaned Land play doomy death metal with a Middle Eastern folk twist on everything. If I could strip this music (oh how I wish I could) I’d take the bass, riffs, death growls, and then I’d merely fix the drum sound and repackage this album for the rest of the world.

Everything else on this album I either dislike or absolutely hate: the moaning style cleans, the female vocals, folk sections, and especially the snare sound. Good fucking lord that snare is so annoying that it ruins the experience all on its own. Death’s Leprosy + Dream Theater’s Images And Words + Abbath’s (Immortal) breath = the snare sound (the rest of the kit is sort of thin, too), which is overly loud, stale, and a buzzkill on the shredded guitar tone. That tone backs riffs that twist, tear, butcher, and char the shit out of any flesh it comes in contact with. It pays well to hear these guitarists unravel some thrash / Mid-East-cool leads and riffs, but that drum sound defeats the purpose.

All my headbanging urges still can’t be restrained by those guitars, which kick off the album on a good note. Those first three tracks are neck breakers in that respect, with the mid-paced routines on “Ornaments Of Gold” being sweet thrash monsters. It’s here when the bass guitar really begins to shine right under the guitars that, while I call shredded, are sort of consumed in a purely amplified sound. By this I mean that there isn’t a whole lot of grit to it; the tone is crunchy, but it doesn’t kick balls like some other hefty guitar tones. Solos are harmonic and clear, thankfully, and sticking with “Ornaments Of Gold” I can say that when the band wants to get atmospheric on the death metal side, they can. Any other way and they just sap up the music with the lame folk execution, which is heard immediately on the next track. Honestly, that crap is so annoying, destroying the flow (as in “Aldiar Al Mukadisa”) or legitimacy of the death / doom approach. The folk-ness is apparent on every track in varying forms, but keep the that nonsense off the record and please don’t include female vocals unless they can actually contribute something aside from out-of-touch moaning.

Keys have their say in a fantasy synth style which is old school and calm, but the one stabbing it in the back is Kobi. Now this guy’s growling is coarse and airy, which goes hand-in-hand with the guitar tone, but his moans are the ugly cousin that decided to show up. The growling is menacing but disciplined, yet this moaning is louder and Kobi gets so carried away with his monotonous, dry talking that it drags the songs into a standstill; nothing gets done when he opens his mouth and decides to groan his lines like some old man. Add some woman singing with him and we have a really lame duet lacking presence and power.

I’d tell you to stay away from this, but then again you’d probably like this more than I did. If you dig Middle Eastern tunes to your extreme metal, then you probably shouldn’t pass this up. Personally I can’t stand the sterile acoustics or jangle-jangle tunes mixed with demonized doom / death – and they aren’t implemented well together apart from the riffs – but that’s just another reason why I hate it. Being from the Middle East, I expected this band to at least mold the two sounds together rather than clutter up extreme metal with sappy folk tunes or cultural influences. Some things work and others should just die at the brainstorming session.